WASHINGTON — For nine months, the Pentagon played down the presence of its 1,000 troops in Syria, hoping that President Trump would not focus on the extent to which the American military was continuing to fight the Islamic State despite his order in December to pull out. On Sunday, the president appeared to say he had had enough. Now, for the second time in less than a year, the Defense Department, the State Department, Congress and staff across the national security establishment are scrambling to respond to the words of a president who views Syria and the fight against ISIS as a battle largely won and done for American troops. On Monday, after a White House announcement the night before that Mr. Trump was moving American troops out of the way of a threatened Turkish incursion into Syria, Defense Department officials were struggling to put their already piecemeal Syria military strategy back together again. It will not be easy. Caught between furious Kurdish allies who see Mr. … [Read more...] about Caught Between Trump, Turkey and Kurds, Pentagon Struggles to Piece Together Syria Strategy
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Turkish forces began a long-anticipated cross-border assault on Wednesday against the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia, in northeastern Syria. The dispute between Turkey and the Kurds has deep roots in regional power dynamics that have created a tangled web of interests. Further complicating the picture is the fact that the United States is an ally of both Turkey and the S.D.F., as the militia is known. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said the goal of the incursion was “to destroy the terror corridor” that he said Kurdish forces were trying to establish on his country’s southern border, and to bring peace to the region. Leaders of the S.D.F. and others in the region say the strikes are putting civilians at risk, and warned of an imminent humanitarian crisis. Kurdish groups on the ground shared photographs and videos of people fleeing villages as smoke rose from the site of strikes. To understand the current conflict requires knowing the … [Read more...] about Why Is Turkey Fighting the Kurds in Syria?
Turkey’s military strike on Wednesday against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria — a group long regarded as the United States’ most reliable Syrian partner in its fight against the Islamic State — has been years in the making. To Turkey, an important American ally and NATO member, those fighters are terrorists bent on undermining the Turkish government. But for the United States, they have been dependable allies who have died fighting alongside American soldiers. Since 2014, with the start of military action against ISIS, Kurdish fighters have done the critical work of clearing and holding territory conquered by the militants. In recent years, they have taken care of refugees and detained terrorism suspects. August 2014 — Sinjar, Iraq A murdered minority and the start of an alliance In August 2014, the Islamic State launched surprise attacks in Kurdish-held areas of Iraq, forcing the Iraqi Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga to retreat. A number … [Read more...] about Timeline: The Kurds, Turkey and the U.S., Allies and Enemies
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif arrives to attend the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran offered on Saturday to engage Syrian Kurds, Syria’s government and Turkey in talks to establish security along the Turkish-Syrian border following Turkey’s military incursion into northern Syria to fight Kurdish forces. In making the mediation offer, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to a 21-year-old security accord that required Damascus to stop harboring Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants waged an insurgency against the Turkish state. Turkey has said that pact was never implemented. “The Adana Agreement between Turkey and Syria - still valid - can be the better path to achiev(ing) security,” Zarif said. “Iran can help bring together the Syrian Kurds, the Syrian Govt and Turkey so that the … [Read more...] about Iran offers to mediate between Syrian Kurds, Turkey
Turkish troops have advanced into north-eastern Syria, following airstrikes and artillery barrages aimed at US-backed Kurdish forces who control the region. The Turkish military confirmed on Wednesday it had “launched the land operation into the east of the Euphrates river” and later said it had hit 181 “militant targets”. Video footage showed civilians fleeing towns with columns of smoke rising in the background and jet trails visible in the sky. Activists and observers said at least seven civilians had been killed so far. There were also early reports of civilian casualties in border towns hit by shelling. Pictures and video shared on social media showed wrecked buildings and bodies in the rubble. Turkey’s offensive was triggered by a call between Donald Trump and Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on Sunday, in which, the Turks claim, Trump handed over leadership of the campaign against Isis in Syria to Ankara. The American president … [Read more...] about Turkish troops advance into Syria as Trump washes hands of the Kurds